Ritual Coffee Roasters, Hayes Valley

The Ritual Coffee logo in the window of the Hayes Valley branch.A pioneer of San Francisco’s speciality coffee scene since first opening in The Mission in 2005, Ritual Coffee Roasters’ reputation preceded it. I’d seen its coffee across the USA from Box Kite in New York to Go Get ‘Em Tiger in Los Angeles. More recently, I’d had Ritual’s coffee at Maverick Coffee in Phoenix. Through all that, I’d never been to any of its six San Francisco outlets, so it was a priority on my return two weeks ago to pay Ritual a visit. As luck would have it, I’d chosen my hotel well, just a short walk from Ritual’s Hayes Valley location, occupying one of a small collection of shipping containers known as Proxy.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that, operating out of a container, Ritual might be a limited, takeaway-focused operation, but far from it. With proper cups for drink-in customers (bench inside or multiple tables outside), there’s a coffee selection that would put many larger shops to shame: house-blend, single-origin and decaf on espresso, three single-origins on pour-over and another on batch-brew.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Patricia’s Green in Hayes Valley, San Francisco, and, off to the right, Proxy.
  • A better view of Proxy, seen approaching from the other direction along Octavia Street.
  • And here's the view from the other side, looking across Proxy from Hayes Street.
  • This is Del Popolo, a wood-fired pizza oven in the back of a truck, part of Proxy.
  • Off to the left are the containers, which is what brought me here in the first place.
  • There's the Juice Shop, in half a container...
  • ... and, seen heading north along Octavia Street, Smitten Ice Cream.
  • This is what I really came for though, on the other side of Smitten. No, not the chairs!
  • Off to the right. There, that's it: Ritual Coffee Roasters!
  • Occupying a refurbished shipping container, there are two doors in the sawtooth front.
  • The one on the right is the exit. Follow the signs to the left...
  • ... and you'll find the entrance over at the other end of Ritual.
  • Stepping inside, this is pretty much all there is to Ritual, the counter along the back.
  • Immediately to the left of the door are the retail shelves...
  • ... with retail bags of coffee dead ahead, in front of the grinders for the filter coffee.
  • To the right are three V60s: yes, despite its size, Ritual offers pour-over.
  • Next is the till and the pastry selection...
  • ... while finally, at the right-hand end, is the La Marzocco GB5 espresso machine...
  • ... complete with three grinders (seasonal blend, single-orign and decaf).
  • And that's it, apart from this bench which runs along the window between the doors.
  • The menu and coffee choices are on the clipboard left of the till, along with the...
  • ... batch-brew choice on the card next to it.
  • If you're quick, there might still be some pastries left!
  • I started off with an 8oz cappuccino in my Therma Cup.
  • My coffee eyes up the espresso machine from my spot at the end of the bench.
  • Pretty latte art...
  • ... which, impressively, lasted to the bottom of the cup.
  • I'd ordered before I realised that Ritual had proper cups. This is for pour-over. Classy.
  • I decided to stay and have the single-orign Burundi as an espresso.
  • I'll leave you with this shot of my coffee, which tasted as good as it looked.
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Ritual Coffee Roasters has graced its current location on the east side of Patricia’s Green in Hayes Valley since 2011. Occupying a refurbished shipping container which, along with Smitten Ice Cream, the Juice Shop and Del Popolo, a wood-fired pizza oven in a truck, it forms part of Proxy, a two-block project providing a flexible environment of food, art, culture and retail. There’s not much to Ritual itself, but it shares a cluster of seven or eight small red mesh tables in the open space between the various establishments.

The core of Ritual is a regular, open-faced shipping container, counter at the back and an extended sawtooth front, made mostly of glass. This, coupled with a massive window on the right-hand side, makes for a very bright interior. Since space is limited, Ritual has a strict one-way system, with doors at either end.

You enter on the left, next to the retail selection against the left-hand wall. There are retail bags dead-ahead next to the pour-over bar. To the right, in the centre of the counter, are the till and pastry selection. Finally, occupying the right-hand end of the counter, is the La Marzocco GB5 espresso machine and it three grinders, by which time you are by the second of the two doors, which, located behind you, is the exit. Collect your coffee, then you’re on your way, unless you really want to sit inside, in which case, there’s a single bench between two doors, following the window as it slopes left to right by about 30°.

I turned up first thing one Sunday morning, Therma Cup in hand, for my first coffee of the day. It was only after I ordered that I realised that Ritual has a small supply of cups for sit-in (or sit-out) customers, including carafes and cups, presented on a tray, for pour-over. Classy.

There are three single-origins on pour-over another on batch-brew, all of which change monthly. On espresso, the seasonal house-blend (Ship to Shore) and decaf (Los Gigantes, Colombia) are joined by a single-origin (Sweet Tooth, Munyinya, Burundi) which changes as and when the staff get through it.

I started with the Burundi in an 8oz cappuccino, the coffee and milk in perfect harmony, creating a smooth drink. Impressed, I stayed on to order the Burundi as an espresso, served in a classic cup, glass of sparkling water on side. On its own, it was a rich, sweet, well-balanced espresso with a touch of acidity, a perfect counterpoint to the cappuccino and an excellent start to my Sunday.

432B OCTAVIA STREET • SAN FRANCISCO • CA 94102 • USA
www.ritualroasters.com +1 415-865-0989
Monday 07:00 – 19:00 Roaster Ritual (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 19:00 Seating Bench; Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 19:00 Food Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 19:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 19:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 07:00 – 19:00 Wifi No
Sunday 07:00 – 19:00 Power No
Chain Local Visits 19th April 2019

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